Can Cats Infected With FIV Live With Non-Infected Cats?


A recent comment caught my eye:

Davs wrote:

I have a q, I have two cats. One of them is positive for FIV. I just found out yesterday. I was wondering if it is alright to keep them together. Theyve never really been apart (since birth). So one really looks for the other. They don’t fight but when they play they do those playful bites to each other. So is it safe that they are kept together? or must they be kept apart?

(Posted under Finally, a Treatment for FIV/Feline AIDS May be in the Works)

FIV, short for feline immunodeficiency virus, causes feline AIDS. FIV is genetically related to the human AIDS virus. I am aware of no evidence that FIV poses a risk to humans living with infected cats.

FIV causes suppression of infected cats’ immune systems. This can lead to intractable infections or certain types of tumors. However, most FIV-infected cats live years (decades in many cases) without suffering any complications from infection.

FIV is not highly contagious. It is spread by fighting–serious fighting. To spread FIV, an infected cat must bite another cat severely enough to break the skin.

This sort of fighting is very rare in cats that live together. Cats that reside together in a house are often like siblings growing up in a family. They usually don’t get along perfectly. There may be a significant amount of noise and squealing. But they rarely inflict serious injuries on each other.

None of my FIV-positive patients has spread the virus to non-infected housemates. Since your cats get along well, it is very unlikely that the virus will spread.

Of course, it is still possible. A serious fight could lead to infection of your currently FIV-negative cat. You will have to decide on your own whether such a fight is probable. But if your cats are like ones I have known, the disease won’t spread. Here is a quote from my website:

FIV does not frequently spread among cats that live in the same household. Cats that cohabitate rarely engage in the aggressive, severe form of fighting that spreads the virus.

Read more about FIV on my website:

Photo Credit: Kalumet.

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